Who you gonna call?

Don’t deny it, those words bring to mind the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man indulgences of actor Dan Aykroyd and the ectoplasm scraping Bill Murray emerging from a white 1959 Caddy Miller-Meteor. So heroic, weren’t they? Risking their lives to save New York City from hostile ghosts.  And there was no question Ghostbusters were the right guys for the job!


In the world of home construction, home improvement and renovation, it’s not always so obvious who to call.


Do you need a General Contractor? A handyman/handywoman?


The most important question to ask when you are looking for a home renovation/home improvement professional is:


Will more than one trade be needed to complete the job?


Projects for a General Contractor (GC) include:


1. Renovating a kitchen.

2. Remodeling a bathroom.

3. Finishing or renovating a basement.

4. An addition.


Projects that don’t require a General Contractor include:


1. Installing flooring and baseboards.

2. Repainting your home.

3. Building a fence or a deck.

4. New windows installed.

5. Replacing your roof.


Before you pick up the phone, determine the scope of your project. Will your job require the handy work and knowledge of an electrician, a drywaller, and a plumber? Or do you need just one of the above?


A GC takes care of onsite and offsite project management. They charge a service fee to schedule and coordinate trades, apply to your municipality for permitting, order and coordinate material and product delivery, make sure the renovation process stays on time and on budget, among many things.


A handywoman/handyman is more likely to work alone, or with a couple of helpers. They come onsite to get one job done, such as floor installation, and are not working alongside another trade.


In a bathroom renovation, on the other hand, you are making improvements to a mechanical room—meaning, it’s likely you will need a plumber, electrician, interior designer, drywaller, tile setter, and finishing carpenter onsite at some point during the project.


If you do decide to hire a GC to install flooring and baseboards, you are paying service fees that you don’t need to pay. Also, keep in mind most GCs won’t install materials they haven’t supplied because they cannot warranty them. If your floor should open up and swallow a family member, or start oozing green goo a year after installation, for example, it’s hard to know where the issue originated—with the product? or with the installation? And impossible to know who should warranty the product and work.  


If you are uncertain of who you’re gonna call, don’t be afraid to call us and ask!


Extra Tips for Hiring your General Contractor


If you are out to hire a GC, consider checking up on the following before you sign a contract:


1. Have you done this kind of work before?

2. What professional organizations are you members of? CHBA? BBB?

3. How often is a project manager on site?

4. Visit their website to check out portfolio—Do they showcase photos during the renovation process, or just professional photos of the complete project?






Father's Day Special: Planning your renovation

Father's Day Special: Planning your renovation just right


Father’s Day summons images of funky ties and plentiful tool belts, BBQ dinners and…




We know, it’s a little early to be thinking about that sought-after winter haven, but

if you are getting serious about that long-talked about renovation, whether it’s an updated kitchen, addition to the back of your home, or the beloved Man Cave, it’s time to get planning!


Just like any other professional out there, General Contractors are busy. Once you have chosen who you want to work with, it’s most likely they can’t start tomorrow. There are layers of prep-work to peel through before anyone fashions a tool belt or takes the first sledgehammer swing.


Working with a thorough professional contractor, you can expect the first few visits to look like this:


1. Consultation—Contractors get an idea of what their client wants; what is the scope of work and the budget range?


2. Planning and Design—This is where an interior design and general contractor team put their heads together to finalize drawings and trades schedule.


Looking to add a room to the back of your home? Basement excavation? Building from the ground up? Moving load-bearing walls? Planning also includes time for structural assessment by an engineer, applying for and receiving permits and technical reports.


3. Budget Meeting—You will look back on this line-by-line examination of costs and be thankful you took the time. Get the straight story on what factors will affect the budget once a project begins so there are no surprises.  


4. Site Meeting—Once the plan and budget are in place, it’s time to meet your crew! Each contractor works differently. Diamond clients meet the people who will be working in their home at each stage of the project, from wiring and dry-walling to baseboards and finishing work.


5. Contract Signing—This last meeting before starting a project is an important one. Reading through the fine print to make sure everyone is on the same page is critical for a smooth project. Make sure all expectations are out in the open.


Your renovation schedule has a lot to do with the

contractor you choose.


One of our favourite renovators and contractors, Jim Caruk, says: do your homework! He suggests not just checking references and testimonials, but going to look at one of the jobs your potential contractor is currently working on. Talk to the client and find out if the job is running on schedule.


Also, if it seems like your contractor is over-promising on timeline from the get-go, they are. Something will fall short—either the quality of the work, or finishing on schedule.


A construction schedule will depend on the

scope of your project and material lead times.


Even a small job like your half-bath can take between 30-60 days of planning. THEN, the demolition and renovation begins.


Leave lead time for product arrival and pre-ordered materials needed before starting the job.


Also, take into account time needed for your own decision making—you may not be able to pick that perfect countertop you will be sharing with friends and family for the next 25 years in one day! Leave time for at least a couple of visits to suppliers to make those big decisions. If you have an interior designer on board, she or he can also help with those decisions, make the appointments and order materials.


Professionalism swings both ways. Being the right client includes being patient and making sure you keep on top of open, honest communication with your contractor so they can help you set those reasonable project timeline expectations.


And remember, a good renovation should never be rushed!


Your Man Cave awaits!

Happy Father’s Day to all the hard-working Dads out there!


We want to hear about your Man Cave wish list! Respond to this blog with your Man Cave must-haves.






Before you call your General Contractor

What to do before you contact a renovation contractor?

A daily dose of Houzz or HGTV can get anyone giddy about renovating a home. The decision to renovate is a big one, no matter if you are redesigning a bathroom, or stripping your home to the studs.


Before you pick up the phone and make your way through a list of contractor phone numbers, ask yourself the following questions:

What is my budget?
What are the qualities of the people I want to work with?

Consider taking the following steps before you call a contractor.


Step 1: Know your Budget


There is an overwhelming amount of information to be had on home decor and remodeling websites, DIY renovation television shows, and in home design magazines.


And a lot of misinformation when it comes to price tag.


According to PayScale, a Canadian Salary Research Job Index, the average hourly wage for an Electrician in Edmonton, Alberta is $31.41; the national average is $28.91. A Carpenter’s average wage in Edmonton is $28.76, where the national average is $24.22.


These wage differences are consistent in all trades, and vary from province to province, meaning the cost of your bathroom renovation in Halifax is different than the same job in Ottawa, different than the same job in Winnipeg, and so on.


In Alberta, prepare to pay at least 18K for a bathroom renovation with materials, labour, and interior design, all in. Depending on square footage, a well-done kitchen renovation average price point is 50K and above.


The cost of materials also varies significantly between provinces. RSMeans, a 70-year old construction cost data company, monitors construction costs in 318 cities across the US and Canada. In a 2014 analysis of construction material costs and labour costs across Canada, it was revealed that Edmonton and Calgary were the most expensive cities in Canada.



Step 2: Research your Contractor Options


Your next step is to examine the renovation general contractor market-place to get a sense of varying levels of skill and scope and professionalism that can be found in your area. What are the qualities of the people you want to work with?


Save yourself some time by starting with the following research:


 a. Visit Contractor Websites


First of all, do they have a website? Does it work well? Is it easy to navigate?  


What is the initial feeling you get? Are you intrigued? Curious? Want to know more?

Are completed projects displayed with pride in a portfolio?

Do they have Frequently Asked Questions? Read them! It may answer some questions you have.

Do they have a Testimonials page? Read it! Then call and ask for referrals.

What does team culture look like? Do they have an in-house team of trades, or do they rely solely on sub-contractors?

How do they talk about their talent on the team page?

Would you want their team members working in your home?

How are they involved in their community?

How do they answer the phone when you call?


b. Call for Referrals           

Interviewing past clients will give you a great idea of what to expect when working with a contractor, and what different scopes of work they are capable of completing.

Questions for past clients might include:

Was the original scope of your project finished on budget?

How did the contractor handle add-ons/changes in scope?

Were there any surprises during the project? How were they managed?  

Was the billing process straight forward?

How did the contractor deal with roadblocks? 

Did you like the people who were working in your home?

Do you love your home?


When you interview your chosen contractors for the job in person, don’t be afraid to ask, “What is important to you?” and remember, the cheapest contractor is not necessarily your best bet.


Job Updates

We've got several projects on the go for the summer, and some that are just about ready to get wrapped up.  Take a look at this Lansdowne area home that we gutted! It's looking amazing.

Stair Rail BEFORE

Stair Rail BEFORE

Stair Rail - New & waiting for stain

Stair Rail - New & waiting for stain

Travis built this custom locker unit for the mudroom entrance.

Travis built this custom locker unit for the mudroom entrance.

Painted with hooks installed for tons of storage!

Painted with hooks installed for tons of storage!

The Main Bathroom  BEFORE

The Main Bathroom BEFORE

New tile & cabinetry going into the Main Bathroom

Everything is coming along very well, and we can't wait to show off the final result!